Lights Out

Lights Out
Getting through Cleveland's curse through the eyes of a Northern Ohio college student. Putting the Lights Out.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Most Overrated Player in the NBA... and it's Obvious

     I just turned on the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks game on TNT. As I watch this, a player for the Clippers is shooting free throws. As he is shooting, a stat comes up on the screen. It says, "1 point in last 19 minutes - 0/5 FG". Without watching the previous 19 minutes, and without looking at who is shooting free throws, I successfully guessed who that statistic was about.

     I watch a good amount of basketball, and I know what a solid power forward is supposed to be. In today's NBA, your power forward should be a stretch-4 that has an inside game and can hit a consistent 15-footer. This power forward bricking his free throws is a highly overrated player, and in my opinion, the most overrated player in the league. I am talking about Blake Griffin.

     If I am looking for a highlight dunk, or a high flying player, the only player after LeBron James worth picking is Blake Griffin. If I am starting a franchise, or I want a power forward that I can go to to score when I need it, I am staying away from Griffin. Outside of five feet (and with his hops, maybe 8 feet), Griffin is so offensively challenged, I am drooling at the mouth if I have a top defense.

     15-footer: Brick.

     Watching Griffin brick another jump shot, I had to look up some advanced stats. Looking at's advanced statistics on Griffin, I found no surprises. In almost three complete seasons, Griffin has taken over 1200 more shots at the rim compared to 10 to 15 feet, and over 600 more shots at the rim compared to 3 to 9 feet. His number of shots outside the rim has drastically decreased since his rookie year. Last year, Griffin shot only 28 percent from 10-15 feet.

     First free throw: Brick.

     Griffin has yet to shoot above 70 percent from the free throw line. This causes him to miss valuable minutes at the end of games, and I do not want my franchise player at the end of the bench in crunch time. Again, inside of 5 feet, nobody compares to Griffin outside of LeBron. Eventually, I see Griffin becoming a solid NBA player.

     Someone so offensively challenged outside of 5 feet continues to get praise as one of the biggest stars in the NBA, and if I get enjoyment out of high flying dunks, there is nobody better. But as a fan of the game, I guess I am missing something when I hear analysts and people in the media praising his game. I haven't seen one person with the same opinion as myself, and it seems like that is how today's game is supposed to go.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Is the Season Here Yet?

It is March 24, 2013. I woke up to a text alert at 8 A.M. this morning about a winter weather advisory. The Indians begin their season in 9 days, and all of Ohio is under a winter weather advisory. Opening day is in two weeks, and we are expecting six inches of snow. The sad part is, the six inches is expected here, and not in Cleveland, off the lake. This brought back memories of the 2007 “Snowpening Day”.
But then I became excited. This is a unique area. You can count the number of cities that have fans that would be okay with a snow storm crashing their Opening Day parade on one hand. It comes with being a Cleveland fan I suppose. You really can expect anything. Only in Cleveland could you have a lake effect snow storm on Opening Day, and have your old manager that led your 90’s teams make the umpires call the game in the top of the 5th, one out away from a complete game. And only in Cleveland, could you have Paul Byrd, pitching in the last games of his career, take a perfect game into the 5th.
This is a city where every fan in the stadium throws their beer bottles at the referees. It is a city where entire teams move overnight. This is a place where jersey burnings are expected, and where “There’s always next year” is trademarked. And yet, with all of that being said, it is viewed as normal.
The beginning of the season cannot come soon enough, and with that comes Opening Day. I will continue the streak of attending every Opening Day since 2002 with my father. Rain, sleet, or yes, even snow, we will be there. It is only fitting that this happens in Cleveland.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Three Years?

“It’s been three years already?”
That is what I was asking myself as I watched the Miami Heat beat my Cavs on a mid-February Sunday. The Miami Heat is in the middle of their third season, and what is looking to be their third straight NBA Finals appearance, and my Cavs? They are in the opposite direction, looking at a third straight Top-5 pick.
It has been almost three years since “the King of Akron” made his infamous Decision. Three years since the heart of Cleveland sports was torn out and stomped on by its own golden child. Three years ago, the kid we watched grow into arguably the best player in the world, destroyed his image, the little hope that northeast Ohio sports fans had in ending the drought of championships since 1964, and the future of basketball as a whole in this area.
After almost three years, I can still remember Decision day exactly. The feelings that arose after hearing where those talents were heading are still remembered. The irony that was found as my father and I were burning our memorabilia in the backyard, reading my Nike shirt that said “Local Hero”. The smashing of bobble heads, burning of posters, magazines, and cards did little to cover up the wound that was shared by people across my state.
It has been a quick but painful three seasons; seeing that one guy win his first title, the losing streak, our leading scorer Antawn Jamison. What is not forgotten is how lucky we were at the same time, trading for Baron Davis and a first round pick that ultimately got us Kyrie Irving. Irving has already proven to be a Top 10 point guard, and arguably Top 5. He is only 20 years old. Rumors are already starting about 2014 and what could possible happen, being an Irving-James pairing after James opts out of his contract.
Anyone who has any knowledge of basketball would know that Cleveland would be the best basketball decision for James. And if anyone is a Cavs fan at all, they cannot deny the fact that they wouldn’t even think twice about wanting LeBron on our team. It has been almost three years. For the sake of wanting a championship, you should be able to put aside the way LeBron left our city if it meant him slamming lob after lob from Kyrie. The rants from Michael Reghi yelling “Flight Number 23 for takeoff!” that can only be heard on highlight reels would be yelled again. Austin Carr emphatically yelling “Get that weak stuff outta here!” after every LeBron chase down would be celebrated.
All of this would be possible. With that being said, this would have to be a different run. No billboards covering entire sides of buildings. No cherishing a King, instead of a team. This will be Kyrie’s group. If we ever get too caught up in what is being in front of us, if we feel “spoiled” by someone’s play, we have to think back, to July 8th, 2010. It must remain in our minds. Because even though it’s been three years, the wounds are still fresh, and would be even more vulnerable to being reopened. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Plea for the Dolans

Mr. Dolan,

     We have now begun another cold, gray, unpromising winter in Northeast Ohio. The winter meetings have just ended, and outside of Terry Francona, we as Tribe fans are left with small, uneventful rumors involving over-their-prime, soon to be overpaid utility players. Don't get me wrong, a Jason Michaels and David Dellucci here and there are acceptable, but every year? This just has to stop.
     The Browns were just sold for $1 billion to an owner who, compared to Randy Lerner, has already shown more fire and urge to win a football game that didn't involve using only feet. And with Jimmy Haslem, it has shown already.The Browns just won their third game in a row, and for the first time in God knows how long, Browns fans are figuring out playoff spots compared to draft spots in week 15.

     You could learn something from Randy Lerner. After years of a worthless payroll, powerless lineups and countless managers, you could easily take the first and clearly largest step in providing Cleveland with entertaining, exciting summer nights (Having no relation to the fireworks, or dollar dog nights of course... okay maybe dollar dog nights). Sell the team. Just do it. Do every Wahoo fan and yourselves all a favor and leave. It was fun while it lasted, I guess. Sell the team to someone who cares. Someone willing to open up the checkbook and put a winning group on the field 162 nights a year.

     Two of the three teams in Cleveland have this. Dan Gilbert and Haslem have shown that they are willing to put forth the money and effort to do what every Cleveland fan wants, win. This every five or six year playoff contention performance got old in 2007. The trading or letting go of every Cy Young winner, every all star, and every fan favorite outside of No-Knees Grady Sizemore is ridiculous. We as fans feel that this would benefit everyone if you did the right thing.

     I am looking forward to the day where I go online and see that you are putting the team up for sale. Seeing a list of potential buyers, and maybe even seeing our own Magic Johnson. And maybe that is asking too much. Wanting to see a consistent free agent contender, a full house on a random summer night at the Jake. Yes, it's still the Jake. But hey, there's always next year, right?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I Blame My Father : an 18 Year Old’s View on Sports

            I blame my father, a northern Ohioan, born and raised. I was his first and only son coming into the world. What better way to celebrate the day of my birth than to be in the hospital cafeteria watching the Indians game? This is the first sign that I am doomed. The intense thunderstorms and raging tornado sirens going off in the distance in Sandusky, Ohio that night should have warned him that what he was doing was not right.

            This was 1993, a year of no significance to a Cleveland fan, except a third, fourth, and sixth place finish by our beloved teams. What was going through my father’s mind as he watches his beloved Indians during my birth? He definitely knows about the curses. I’ve heard about them repeatedly for 18 years by himself, his friends, and the worst… the media. Even though I wasn’t around for the Drive, the Fumble, the Shot, the Catch, Red-Right 88, or the Trade, (keep in mind, as this is being typed I am reaching for the tissue box), I know all about them, through deep, tear-jerking story sessions with suffering family members. It upsets me, because like them, I am a victim.

            I like to call myself a “lucky” Cleveland fan, if there is such thing. My young mind brings no memory of the 90’s tragedies. The offensive powerhouse ’95 and ’97 Indians collapses are only recollected through video. I’ve seen Game Seven - Jose Mesa, Edgar Renteria. We all know. What about Art Modell moving the Browns from our great city? I was just a 2 year old playing with a nerf football. I do remember their return, even though I’d rather not. I Watched Tim Couch and Chris Palmer lead our Brownies to a hopeless 2 and 14 debut. And the Cavs? I would have no knowledge of their existence until some kidf rom Akron jumped into the picture.

            My personal stories about these teams would do nothing for someone reading this. It is the same song on repeat since 1964. It wouldn’t matter that I was there for Game Four of the 2007 NBA Finals in the very last row of Quicken Loans Arena with my Dad. It makes no difference that I saw the LeBron James-led Cavs get swept in their first Finals appearance. What would it do for you to know that I witnessed the collapse of an Indians team that took a 3 to 1 series lead into Boston with the Cy Young winner on the mound, lose the series 4 to 3? We get it. Everybody gets it. Cleveland has the worst luck for a sports city in America. Hell, even the Detroit Lions managed to make the playoffs.

            People say “It’s just a game”. “It’s only sports. There is a real world out there”. Every time I hear that I disagree. I am 18 years old. I’ve taken lessons from watching and playing sports that will shape me into the man that I will become in the future. Being a fan of Cleveland sports puts life in adifferent perspective. It teaches you that like our city, you need to be tough. You need to work hard. You need to do things the RIGHT way. You will get knocked down, many times. You don’t lay there and give up. You don’t quit. You get back up and fight. You don’t take the easy way out. Like ditching your hometown to go play with your buddies on the beach, or completely tearing the heart out of our city by moving the entire team. I know what it takes to succeed. I know that like sports, life goes on. But what I also know is, once it is our time, when a TEAM comes together and wins the right way, it will be worth the suffering. It is worth going to Opening Day every year with my dad, with hopes of this being the year, or sitting in front of the television at 1:00 on Sunday afternoons in the fall thinking maybe, this will be the year the Browns can compete for the playoffs. I know damn well that when I have a child, they will be a Cleveland fan. Call me crazy, but I want my kids to take the lessons from sports that they taught me. So yes, I do blame my father for making me a Cleveland fan. But what I should be doing, is thanking him.
- E